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Take Home Exam Essay

1632 words - 7 pages

An illusion is something that seeks to deceive or trick the eye, producing a false perception or impression of reality. Illusionism is a basic principle of naturalistic art, and any artwork that is figurative creates an illusion. To attempt to capture an image truthfully is to deceive the viewer. The viewer is tricked into seeing a painted or sculpted object as real, knowing that it is really a pictorial representation. This is produced through various techniques, such as one-point linear perspective or foreshortening. Michel Foucault noticed a conflict between the perception of art in the Renaissance and the Baroque. The Renaissance held the belief in representing things as they appear in ...view middle of the document...

The use of gilded plaster creates the illusion of plaster sculpture as pure gold, creating a grand monument of half the weight and cost. Around the throne itself are four Saints significant to Roman Catholicism: St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Athanasius, and John Chrysostom. In depicting these four figures, Bernini harmonizes Eastern and Western tradition. These figures are actively engaged, guiding the seemingly weightless chair into place. Incorporated into the design is the window. The yellow and orange tinted glass window, increasing the illusion of pure sunlight flowing into the space. This window is the only one in St. Peter’s, creating a unique experience within the large-scale Basilica. Light is integrated into the composition to intensify the miraculous event. In deceiving the viewer through integrating architecture and sculpture, the illusion intensifies the divine experience of observing the relic of Saint Peter, energizing and glorifying the church. The Cathedra Petri is not a static object in the niche, but captures active motion and movement. Through these illusionary effects, the composition becomes wholly interactive, emphasising importance of the viewer’s personal and spiritual experiences when viewing this composition.
Pietro da Cortona’s The Glorification of the Reign of Urban VIII (Allegory of Divine Providence) is dated to 1633-9. Located in the Palazzo Barberini, this illusionistic ceiling fresco operates as celebration political and social propaganda, celebrating the life of Maffeo Barberini (Pope Urban VIII). The fresco looks to affirm his divine right to rule as a Pope chosen by God. The central figure is that of Divine Providence, surrounded by personifications of virtues. Another example of “bel composto,” The fresco joins the architecture with painting and sculptural framework, harmonizing the three arts. An example of trompe-l’oeil (“trick of the eye”), this ceiling painting looks to deceive the viewer into believing these objects are real rather than two-dimensional representations, if only for a brief moment. It is also a form of quadrature, painted architecture that appears to extend the real space of the room outwards. The ceiling fresco depicts di sotto in sù (“from below to above”) which gives the impression that objects are suspended above in air. Painted elements seem to exist in three-dimensions, overlapping elements of the framework, and escaping the boundaries of the space. Clouds and figures spill around the entablature. To enhance realism and the illusion, foreshortening is used, angling figures away from the viewer into receding into space, using a vanishing point within the architecture. These techniques appear frequently in ceiling fresco, including Giovanni Battista Gaulli’s The Triumph of the Holy Name of Jesus dating 1676-9. Figures fall through the sculptural and architecture frame from heaven above, and intense shadows are used to trick the viewer into perceiving the light source within the...

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